08/03/2006

Police report finds suicide bomber response policy ‘fit for purpose’

A review of the UK police service’s response to the threat posed by suicide terrorism has deemed it “fit for purpose” while recommending that police engage more with communities to ensure the policy is understood.

The review was undertaken by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) after the fatal shooting by police of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes in the wake of the July 7 bombings in London.

On July 22 2005 Mr de Menzies was mistaken for a suicide bomber and shot seven times in the head at Stockwell Tube station. The de Menezes family haved demanded full, open inquiry into the killing.

The Metropolitan Police Authority have condemned the report, telling the BBC that it was "not good enough" and that police policy had gone "drastically and badly wrong".

Sir Chris Fox, ACPO President, said: “While we await the IPCC findings of their investigation into the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes to decide if the policy needs to be revised further, we felt it necessary to be sure we have tactics available to us that we can use in the face of extreme threat and this review was therefore undertaken. I am pleased that the existing policy has been deemed fit for purpose and we now await any IPCC recommendations.”

The review also found that suicide bomber response policy should be adopted by police forces across the UK and that the strategic policy and principles for countering the threat of suicide terrorism should be clearly articulated in a document available to the public.

Defending the tactics employed by anti-terrorist police, Sir Chris said: “The police service has an overriding duty to protect life, and occasionally, in discharging its duty, force is used. Very rarely officers, in order to save life, may have to take life. The use of lethal force is rightly scrutinised after any event, and this review aims to produce definitive guidance for inclusion in the existing Firearms Manual of Guidance, the relevant training curriculum and good practice for all forces.

“Police officers, faced with a threat have to identify and assess the threat and manage it. They must then use only such force as is proportionate in the circumstances, which may be negotiation or the use of force. Where it is absolutely necessary, lethal force might have to be used.”

(GB/SP)

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